30 May 2019 | Animal health
A personal message to our members
Daniella Dos Santos reflects on the past few weeks as BVA president and explains why we need each other more than ever.
They say that in a crisis you really find out who your friends are. So to every single BVA member I want to say a massive thank you for your support for BVA and for our profession during the Covid crisis.
If the messages I’ve been receiving from vets during this crisis are anything to go by, when the chips are down it’s comforting to know you’re part of a bigger community that understands what you’re going through. I’ve been really moved by the thank yous from people who have looked to BVA for leadership, guidance, and reassurance. You can’t bottle any of those things, so it’s good to know how much they are appreciated.
In many ways the past few weeks have been a bit of a blur, but the situation has brought into sharp focus the importance for all of us of being part of something bigger. As a profession I think that over the years our relationship with our professional bodies has become quite transactional – what tangible benefits will I get for my membership subs?
As a BVA Officer or volunteer you gain an insight into BVA that our thousands of members will never see. I’m sure our members will all have a different idea of what goes on at BVA HQ and I wanted to give you a bit of a peek into what’s been happening during the pandemic.
I have said all along that I’ve been supported by a team working day and night; and I mean that quite literally. I’ve been on countless calls with our policy and media teams at all hours and even on the weekends, working out how to interpret government guidance for the profession, how best to advise and reassure animal owners, and how to keep up our campaign for better financial and business support for practices.
Our policy and membership teams have responded to nearly 1,400 individual email questions about every single detailed aspect of Covid-19. Sadly, some of those calls and emails have been less than polite, but every single person has had a courteous and helpful response from BVA staff.
We’ve asked a lot of the team to give up their Sundays to support our weekly webinars for the profession and they’ve done it without question. And they’ve jumped on the Q&A afterwards to make sure all of your questions are investigated and answered.
Our membership team has been fielding calls from worried members and the BVA legal helpline has understandably seen a huge spike in advice calls (up by 163%).
One thing we know is that the veterinary profession is resilient, but that doesn’t mean as individuals we don’t find the challenges just as tough as the next person. I certainly never expected to be BVA President during the biggest crisis in a generation. It’s had its highs and lows, but I’ve been surrounded by the most incredible team at “BVA HQ” providing support round the clock via endless online meetings from their homes.
And it’s not all been Covid-19 related. Amongst all of the crisis management we’ve kept up a lot of our other work - making sure we’re feeding into Brexit consultations, continuing our policy development (on ‘under our care’, good workplaces, bovine TB and welfare at slaughter), delivering talks to students, supporting our Young Vet Network, and organising our Branch AGMs.
Many members think of BVA as a huge organisation with unlimited resources. So it might surprise you to know that looking after our 18,000 members across the whole of the UK is our small team of around 30 staff.
And it might surprise you even further to know that, in order to secure BVA’s finances, we’ve had to take some very tough decisions to manage the financial impacts of Covid-19 on the organisation, including furloughing a number of staff and moving everyone else onto a four-day week.
Despite these challenges I can promise you that we’re continuing to prioritise our members and will be here to answer your questions and give you the support you need during this difficult time, Covid-related or otherwise.
An organisation like BVA has never been more important for our profession. When a government department emailed me at midnight on Friday night, I was on a call with them at 10am on Saturday to talk about how the lockdown and social distancing were affecting veterinary practices. And when a government advisory body wanted to know what the impact of Covid-19 was on animal health and welfare our amazing volunteers jumped into action and our policy team delivered a detailed briefing within 72 hours.
But we can only do what we do because of your support. I’ve only ever wanted to be a vet and I’ve been a member of BVA since university. Having realised my dream career ambitions, I wanted to give something back and be part of our professional association.
I hope you feel the same way too and that you will continue to support us through your membership.
And if you have friends and colleagues who aren’t BVA members, please consider telling them about everything we’ve been doing and asking them to join us.
As vets, being part of the BVA family is saying I care about our future as a profession.
It’s saying we’ll get through this crisis together.
Daniella Dos Santos
This letter first appeared in Vet Record.
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